GE: Improving Operational Efficiency in Instrumentation

How aligning the hardware, software, and workflow needs of instrument technicians helped to improve the operational efficiency of General Electric’s TransPort PT900 Portable Flow Meter.

Challenge: a fragmented system that no longer meets the needs of a changing user base
GE Measurement & Control observed that their portfolio of portable ultrasonic flow meters needed to adapt to a changing instrumentation workforce where productivity was being stunted by waning resources and a widening skills gap. Wanting to create a more streamlined measurement control system, GE asked Essential to help better understand the daily challenges of this shifting customer base, and to identify opportunities to simplify the system of devices, peripherals and fragmented digital solutions.

 
Approach: global research to understand and optimize the operating landscape
To better understand the operating landscape of instrumentation technicians, Essential lead global research efforts in what GE has described as “the most involved voice of the user effort to date” for its flow products. Through site visits and interviews with instrumentation groups across a number of industries, infrastructure types, and countries, the team uncovered unmet customer needs and workflow requirements. Essential then translated key opportunities into design and business requirements for a next generation portable flow meter platform.

 
Solution: aligning hardware, software, and workflow with a new user interface
Key recommendations included hardware and software modifications that aligned data flow, and digital connectivity augmentations that anticipated the shift to an emerging younger, tech-savvy field engineer. Essential established critical workflow improvements in the design of a new wireless touch screen tablet interface that increases the ease of use and learnability of the meter, and is structured to enable the use of both basic and advanced functions without overwhelming the user. A visual toolkit was also created to facilitate any future scaling of the user interface.

 
Impact: faster processing, reduced error, and a simplified user experience
Launched as part of the TransPort PT900 Portable Flow Meter platform, the new user interface has successfully reduced set-up and measurement time from one hour to under 13 minutes. The alignment of data flow and connectivity has enhanced the productivity of technicians in the field, enabling them to run at optimal performance, which in addition to faster measurement times includes fewer user errors. This improved performance and enhanced usability has instilled a new level of user confidence and productivity in the field.